IDEAS home Printed from https://ideas.repec.org/a/eee/exehis/v47y2010i4p460-475.html
   My bibliography  Save this article

Was Malthus right? The relationship between population and real wages in Italian history, 1320 to 1870

Author

Listed:
  • Chiarini, Bruno

Abstract

In this article we investigate the relation between population and real wages in the Italian economy during the period 1320-1870. The main result is that the positive check is strong and statistically significant but the other equilibrating mechanism in the Malthusian model - the preventive check - based on the positive relationship between fertility and real wages does not operate in pre-industrial Italy. In contrast to the Malthusian hypothesis, we find a negative feedback from wage to population. The empirical result is clearly consistent with the theoretical framework of the "old age security motive". We show, with a simple overlapping-generation model, that by allowing for substitution in a pre-industrial economy between child quantity and other assets (such as new seeds, better soybean quality, and new cultivation and irrigation methods) fertility may be negatively affected whenever income rises.

Suggested Citation

  • Chiarini, Bruno, 2010. "Was Malthus right? The relationship between population and real wages in Italian history, 1320 to 1870," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 47(4), pages 460-475, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:47:y:2010:i:4:p:460-475
    as

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0014-4983(10)00028-8
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    as
    1. Oded Galor & Omer Moav, 2002. "Natural Selection and the Origin of Economic Growth," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 117(4), pages 1133-1191.
    2. Quamrul Ashraf & Oded Galor, 2011. "Dynamics and Stagnation in the Malthusian Epoch," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 101(5), pages 2003-2041, August.
    3. Robert C. Allen, 2008. "A Review of Gregory Clark's A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 46(4), pages 946-973, December.
    4. Matthias Doepke & Fabrizio Zilibotti, 2005. "The Macroeconomics of Child Labor Regulation," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 95(5), pages 1492-1524, December.
    5. Matthias Doepke, 2004. "Accounting for Fertility Decline During the Transition to Growth," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 9(3), pages 347-383, September.
    6. Shekhar Aiyar & Carl-Johan Dalgaard & Omer Moav, 2008. "Technological progress and regress in pre-industrial times," Journal of Economic Growth, Springer, vol. 13(2), pages 125-144, June.
    7. Galor, Oded, 2005. "From Stagnation to Growth: Unified Growth Theory," Handbook of Economic Growth,in: Philippe Aghion & Steven Durlauf (ed.), Handbook of Economic Growth, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 171-293 Elsevier.
    8. David N. Weil & Oded Galor, 2000. "Population, Technology, and Growth: From Malthusian Stagnation to the Demographic Transition and Beyond," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 90(4), pages 806-828, September.
    9. Gary D. Hansen & Edward C. Prescott, 2002. "Malthus to Solow," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 92(4), pages 1205-1217, September.
    10. Nicolini, Esteban A., 2004. "Mortality, interest rates, investment, and agricultural production in 18th century England," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 41(2), pages 130-155, April.
    11. Michele Boldrin & Larry E. Jones, 2002. "Mortality, Fertility, and Saving in a Malthusian Economy," Review of Economic Dynamics, Elsevier for the Society for Economic Dynamics, vol. 5(4), pages 775-814, October.
    12. Ronald Lee, 1980. "A Historical Perspective on Economic Aspects of the Population Explosion: The Case of Preindustrial England," NBER Chapters,in: Population and Economic Change in Developing Countries, pages 517-566 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    13. Becker, Gary S, 1988. "Family Economics and Macro Behavior," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 78(1), pages 1-13, March.
    14. Michael Kremer, 1993. "Population Growth and Technological Change: One Million B.C. to 1990," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 108(3), pages 681-716.
    15. Ronald Lee, 1973. "Population in Preindustrial England: An Econometric Analysis," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Oxford University Press, vol. 87(4), pages 581-607.
    16. Gregory Clark, 2007. "Introduction to A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World," Introductory Chapters,in: A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World Princeton University Press.
    17. Gary S. Becker, 1960. "An Economic Analysis of Fertility," NBER Chapters,in: Demographic and Economic Change in Developed Countries, pages 209-240 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    18. Allen, Robert C., 2001. "The Great Divergence in European Wages and Prices from the Middle Ages to the First World War," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 38(4), pages 411-447, October.
    19. Malanima, Paolo, 2005. "Urbanisation and the Italian economy during the last millennium," European Review of Economic History, Cambridge University Press, vol. 9(01), pages 97-122, April.
    20. Ronald Lee, 1987. "Population dynamics of humans and other animals," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 24(4), pages 443-465, November.
    21. Michael Anderson & Ronald Lee, 2002. "Malthus in state space: Macro economic-demographic relations in English history, 1540 to 1870," Journal of Population Economics, Springer;European Society for Population Economics, vol. 15(2), pages 195-220.
    22. Johansen, Soren, 1995. "Likelihood-Based Inference in Cointegrated Vector Autoregressive Models," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198774501.
    23. Elise Brezis & Warren Young, 2003. "The new views on demographic transition: a reassessment of Malthus's and Marx's approach to population," The European Journal of the History of Economic Thought, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 10(1), pages 25-45.
    24. Brezis, Elise S., 2001. "Social classes, demographic transition and economic growth," European Economic Review, Elsevier, vol. 45(4-6), pages 707-717, May.
    25. Spanos,Aris, 1986. "Statistical Foundations of Econometric Modelling," Cambridge Books, Cambridge University Press, number 9780521269124.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)

    Citations

    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.
    as


    Cited by:

    1. Edvinsson, Rodney, 2015. "Pre-industrial population and economic growth: Was there a Malthusian mechanism in Sweden?," Stockholm Papers in Economic History 17, Stockholm University, Department of Economic History.
    2. Alan Fernihough, 2013. "Malthusian Dynamics in a Diverging Europe: Northern Italy, 1650–1881," Demography, Springer;Population Association of America (PAA), vol. 50(1), pages 311-332, February.
    3. Bruno Chiarini & Elisabetta Marzano, 2014. "Urbanization and Growth: Why Did the Splendor of the Italian Cities in the Sixteenth Century not Lead to Transition?," CESifo Working Paper Series 5038, CESifo Group Munich.
    4. Erdkamp, Paul, 2016. "Economic growth in the Roman Mediterranean world: An early good-bye to Malthus?," Explorations in Economic History, Elsevier, vol. 60(C), pages 1-20.
    5. Ulrich Pfister & Georg Fertig, 2010. "The population history of Germany: research strategy and preliminary results," MPIDR Working Papers WP-2010-035, Max Planck Institute for Demographic Research, Rostock, Germany.

    Corrections

    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:exehis:v:47:y:2010:i:4:p:460-475. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: http://www.elsevier.com/locate/inca/622830 .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.